Telefonica Buys Mediaset Espana’s 22% DTS-Canal

Telco takes full ownership of Spain’s biggest pay-TV platform

Making good on prexy Cesar Alierta’s promise to drive energetically into the content business, Spain’s giant telco Telefonica has bought up Mediaset Espana’s 22% stake in Distribuidora de Television (DTS), the company behind Canal Plus Spain, the country’s biggest TV operator.

Confirming the deal Friday, Mediaset Espana put the purchase price at €295 million ($401.2 million).

Deal raises Telefonica’s ownership to 100% of DTS. In a milestone agreement this May, Telefonica purchased 56% of DTS from debt-crunched Spanish media group Prisa, raising its total shareholding to 78%.

Mediaset Espana, Spain’s biggest free-to-air broadcast network group, will also receive €30 million for waiving preferential rights to acquiring Prisa’s participation in DTS.

Telefonica’s total ownership of DTS-Canal Plus was always an option. Turning around its languishing business – lacerated by rampant piracy in Spain, high pricing and Spain’s continued economic woes – will require a deep pocket and the bundling of Canal Plus in a three or four-play offer.

That it certainly Telefonica’s business. Mediaset Espana, which with rival broadcast group Atresmedia enjoys an effective duopoly position in Spain TV ad market, has far more limited economic resources than Telefonica and other major preoccupations, such as ramping up TV ad pricing in a sluggish market.

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